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Review: EzMats Designer

By Don Chick

Every once in a while a product comes along that is easy to use and has tremendous features and potential. EzMats Designer is one such product. The software is Mac/PC compatible and is available to purchase and download off the Web. After watching a brief tutorial and downloading about 40MB with an easy installation, I was off on my own creating custom mats in about an hour.

EzMats Designer is not a plug-in or simply a bunch of templates, but rather a stand-alone program that works within Photoshop (CS3 & CS4) when Photoshop is running. Once the software is installed, you can launch the program via a desktop icon or shortcut (Windows). The tool palette is easy to use and the layout is well thought through with only 11 buttons. Figure 1 (below) shows the palette as well as a double mat created from one of the 149 Ready to Use Templates (Software Driven Digital Mat Layouts) and a texture overlay that comes with the EzMats software.

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Figure 1

Kevin Truax, the genius behind EzMats Designer, has created several online videos that take you step-by-step through the very quick learning curve. I found it worth the time investment to watch the video and simultaneously create mats as Kevin talked me through the process. Soon after watching the tutorial videos I was making the more advanced multi-opening mats. My mind was buzzing with ideas for new products that I could offer my clients as well as using these as upgrade options for existing products.

The multi opening mat in Figure 2 took me about 30 minutes to create. Less complicated one-image, one-opening mats take just a few minutes. If you set up a directory structure in a logical way you’ll not have to create mats more than once. When you create a new mat simply save it to your hard drive in a template directory for future use.

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Figure 2

After creating several mats with non-textured surfaces it was time to add a texture to the mats. Solid-color mats are nice, but textures create a whole new level of interest in these products. The software comes with 10 hi-res textures that are very nice, but you can differentiate your mats by using your own.

I placed the texture into the layer structure and used free-transform to size it to fit the mat. To quickly cut the openings in the mat I used the clipping mask feature in Photoshop. You can see in Figure 3 where I placed the texture in the layer structure as well as how I used a Hue/Saturation layer to easily change the color of the texture. Adding the Hue/Saturation layer will enable you to quickly change the color of a double-opening mat (mat and liner) and offer more options to your clients. In order for your hue/saturation layer to not effect you image layers, you’ll need to create a group for the mat and texture layers and place them in this new group. Once the new group is created, if you don’t change the layer mode from pass through to normal the hue/saturation layers will still affect the image layers.

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Figure 3

Adding photos to your new mat is easy, too! First you select each layer where you want a photo, then select all the images in Adobe Bridge and click the “insert photo” button on the pallet. Each photo is inserted into your mat, one at a time and you can use free-transform to resize each image. As you free-transform the images, be sure and hold down the opt/alt+shift to constrain the image proportions.

One thing to note about EzMats Designer is that the program flattens your layers when it has finished creating your custom mat. I found it helpful to click the Create New Snapshot icon in the History palette right before clicking the “create mat” button on the pallet. Once the new mat was created I saved it with a new file name in my appropriate directory then I returned to the snapshot saved in history. Having this snapshot in the history enabled me to return to the layer layout and rearrange them for another variation, or change to a vertical or horizontal configuration. Without the history snapshot I had to create the layers and layout all over again.

The “Help” location is not real obvious on the current revision. Clicking the text “EZMats Designer” in the black tab on the bottom of the palette takes you over to the EZMats website. There you’ll find additional info and links to the webinar’s currently scheduled.

I found the program easy to learn and within a matter of minutes I was creating my own custom mats. It is worth taking the time to look through the software driven templates as you might find that the mat you want has already been created, thereby saving you time.

For a limited time the EzMats Designer software is available for $179.00, which includes …

• PC\Mac Compatible EZMats Designer for Adobe Photoshop CS3 and CS4
• 149 ready-to-use templates
• Training Videos that will get you up to speed with EZMats™ Designer and Photoshop
• 10 Hi-res textures
• Unlimited, free, live phone tech support.

I believe that EZMats Designer would be a useful acquisition for photographers of all types. It’s just the thing to help set your work apart from all the rest.

You can visit www.pixelcreatorpro.com for more information.